Epigenetic control by histone lysine methylation

in Freiburg


Epigenetic mechanisms control eukaryotic development beyond DNA-stored information. There are many pathways, such as DNA methylation, nucleosome remodelling, histone modifications, exchange of histone variants and non-coding RNAs that together contribute to differences of the chromatin template. In particular, the great diversity of covalent histone tail modifications has been proposed to reflect an index ('histone code') that can stabilize distinct proliferative and developmental options. The primary scientific goal of our laboratory is to unravel basic epigenetic mechanisms in normal development and disease. We have discovered the first histone lysine methyltransferase (HMTs) (Rea et al., 2000) and then shown that histone lysine methylation represents a central epigenetic modification in eukaryotic chromatin. We are continuing with our analyses on histone lysine methylation to further dissect epigenetic gene regulation and to identify molecular pathways that initiate and maintain heterochromatic domains in mammalian chromatin.



- Deep-sequencing technology - Enzymatic assays for chromatin-specific enzymes (Rea et al., Nature, 406 2000) - Generation of highly selective modification specific antibodies (Peters et al., Mol. Cell, 12 2003) - IF


1. Rea S., Eisenhaber F., O'Carroll D., Strahl B., Sun Z.-W., Schmid M., Opravil S., Mechtler M., Ponting C.P., Allis C.D. and Jenuwein T. (2000). Regulation of chromatin structure by site-specific histone H3 methyltransferases. Nature 406, 593-599. Nature article
2. Lachner M., O'Carroll D., Rea S., Mechtler K. and Jenuwein T. (2001). Methylation of histone H3 lysine 9 creates a binding site for HP1 proteins. Nature 410, 116-120.



Dr. Thomas Jenuwein
Max-Planck Institute of Immunobiology
Stuebeweg 51
79108 Freiburg

Phone: +49-(0)761-5108-785
Fax: +49-(0)761-5108-790